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Gifts to Bring to China


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Dear Friends :)

Again I pest you with a banal question. I live in Italy and I am off for China, what gifts should I take for collegues and the Univ.head master - when should I give them, asap privately or when in group?

I was planning on bringing along leather belts (him) and purses (her) along with miniture statues of the leaning tower of pisa/colosseum for other staff members. Cheap Tuscany landscape paintings for future acquaintenses, and key rings of soccer clubs for students etc..

What do you think ? :roll:

Thank for all the feedback.

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I think key rings of soccer clubs for students are ok.

As for your colleagues, I would guess they would be more sophisticated than liking leather goods and so on. I always think that giving food/drinks like chocolates, sweet, wines, coffee beans, etc would be more appropriate. In HK, there are strict anti-corruption laws and people in the public sector are careful about receiving gifts. And food is the most acceptable choice, because once such a gift is received it will usually be shared by everyone. But this may not be the case on the mainland.

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I would avoid giving food or drink in China as the Chinese can easily get offended.

The football/soccer items would go doen well.

Also, taking a stamps (mint set collections), currency (range of old Italian coins/notes) or other items/ornaments unique to Italy would also go down well.

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"I would avoid giving food or drinks - the Chinese can be easily offended."

Wow, i've never experienced that before. Can you explain? Chinese people were always offering me food when i was there and always wanted food from me (especially candy!)

Sometimes you might be hurt though cause some of the foods westerners like Chinese think are "tai4 tian2 le" - too sweet (or too rich)

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It's easy to offend the Chinese, particularly if you give food/drink when visiting their house or if they have asked you go do or go somewhere (they are the host). The Chinese beleive that the food/drink is given to them so that it can be served while you are there (and replace the food that they might have otherwise offered you). This is where the offence is created as intrepret it as not liking their food and thats why you brought you own.

You can get around this by giving food to the children - but often you don't want to give them the luxuries from the west as you are not trying to impress the children.

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for leaders, you can always try to bring in a nice looking bottle of grappa or frangelico. The emphasis here is on "nice looking bottle". They will not appreciate the stuff but it will find a prominent spot in their office or living room so that they can show it off to visitors. It doesn't matter if it is pricey as long as it looks "aged" and "classy"

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  • 1 year later...

What souviners should I bring from America to China when I travel there? I want to have something nice to show people my appreciation. Obviously the best choice is something quintessentially American...

So far, my ideas are:

american postage stamps

american books (like a San Francisco table-top photo book--I'm from SF)

american money

american clothing, like sports team hats or jerseys

any other ideas?

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Sports Teams:

Seattle Seahawks

New York Yankees

Seattle Mariners

Miami Heat

LA Lakers


Those teams seem to make a fashion statement. Has to be a Baseball Cap. Pro-fitted, if possible. Jerseys seem to be quite popular too.

Coca-Cola Souvenirs

Sees Chocolate

Starbucks Coffee Beans

POP, Country, and Rock 'n Roll Music

Smoked Samon

Levis Jeans

Bay Area Golden Gate bridge souvenirs (maybe something around your area?)

English Dictionary

Spider-Man, Superman, Batman

Converse ALL-STAR Sneakers

Costco Bottled Water (Alaskan Spring Water)

Sour Patch Kids, Snickers, M&Ms

Small microwavable pizzas, hot pockets



Blue U.S. Passport (just kidding!)

Washington Apples

Florida Oranges

Califorina Raisins

Irish Spring Soap

LA Looks Hair Gel

Pinata (might be too big)

Pumpkin Pie

Costco Beef Hot Dogs

Amercrombie and Fitch T-Shirts (Girls Only)

Sorry for the long list, but these are things international students LOVE around the college campus!

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A lot of good ideas, but some of them are already available in China:

For example:

Starbucks Coffee Beans (available in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin)

POP, Country, and Rock 'n Roll Music (available everywhere)

Levis Jeans (available in department stores)

English Dictionary (available everywhere)

Spider-Man, Superman, Batman (available, but maybe some unique items in the states)

Converse ALL-STAR Sneakers (available in dept. stores)

Costco Bottled Water (Alaskan Spring Water) (China has a ton of its own spring water, but some people might appreciate water all the way from Alaska)

Snickers and M&Ms (available)

Popcorn (microwave popcorn is available, but not that great, some good American brands might impress and delight

I think local SF souvenirs are a great idea. Another good thing is those folders with coin slots for collecting the new 50 states quarters. Fill them in with whichever quarters you can find. You can't go wrong with American pennies or stickers for little kids, even though stickers are available in China, kids are always thrilled to get them.

Don't flash your apples and oranges in customs - confiscation or quarantine. then again that's probably just a problem entering the U.S. I kid you not, I had a customs officer in the SF airport look in my pillowcase to make sure I didn't bring any apples or bananas off the Korean Air plane onto US soil.

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to add to the previous ones. I'm bringing bookmarks, calendars, and refrigerator magnets (do Chinese people tend to like those?) with pictures of the Stanford campus on them -- substitute your nearby famous institution or city. They have the advantage of all being easy to pack!

I now have to rush out and buy baseball caps after reading the earlier recommendation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anything NBA

Anything local to your home state/region/city/etc.

Anything presentable (box matters more than goods)

And if anyone's reading this who is coming to China from the USA or someplace that has English Scrabble and/or a standard English Monopoly, I'll reimburse and buy you more than a couple rounds if you want to bring along a Scrabble and Monopoly set for me!!!


And if anyone has them here in China and is willing to part with them, I'll buy them... I miss Scrabble and Monopoly!!!

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  • 5 months later...
  • 1 month later...

gifts should be things unique to your local region/country that you can't really get anywhere else, like

kitchy statues of David, or statue of liberty.

Mint condition stamps

Mint condition coins - someone suggested bringing those new quarters for each state

I have honestly never seen anyone offended by my bringing food items. Maybe if I had bought stuff like fruits or something and brought it to their homes for dinner, but in general, specially local candies, teas (Celestial Seasonings is near my place), small items that are easily carried and unique to your region are always appreciated.

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  • 2 months later...
Re: Scrabble and Monopoly

I saw them at Shuangjing Carrefour about a week ago. They were around 200RMB if I remember correctly.

I'd love a set of Scrabble here. If anyone can mail a set over to Anshan, I'll reimburse them by paypal or similar.

As for presents:

Go to the tourist shop in your home town and by all the junk you wouldn't normally be seen dead with. For me, being Scottish, that meant giant pencils with tartan on them, key rings with bagpipe players on them and tea towels printed with pictures Edinburgh castle and men in kilts. All of these are small, cheap and light weight in your luggage.

Chocolate is also good. I brought 3 big 500g bars of Toblerone, 6 bars of Galaxy (500g each) and two big 1kg bars of Dairy Milk.

Harry potter items are popular. I got some Harry Potter coins for free in a promotion by Asda supermarket which I then brought with me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

...I leave in a week.

I am bringing Montana quarters...which I will use to pull out of any kids ear in doing a little street magic...

...fresh smoked, locally-caught coho salmon from caveman jack for a friend. I hope the salmon gets through customs. It has a very strong smell that is hard to miss.

...and those individually wrapped Hershey chocolates.

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There are lots of great gift ideas here, many of which I would never have thought of (like the salmon with the strong smell, which is bound to be popular with the customs officials (sh) ).

The gift best received on the Mainland was when I brought over some nice Italian-made ladies cashmere/leather gloves. I couldn't believe the happy reception. :D

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Gifts are nice, but getting to work on time, doing a great job, and finishing your contract are more important. People have many more resources now, and little things are no longer of such great interest.

Remember professors' names, call people by the right title, smile, and show appreciation.

It is the job of the people who host you to give gifts.

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